Yes, gentle reader, I read the next volume. The story picks up three years after the last volume. During the interim, things have been pretty quiet. The doctor Jack continues to live with his adopted child-aged father and the bird men tribe. However, the shaman River has disappeared and one of the tribe members, Horn, has become increasingly sick and has disturbing visions about the Day of Destruction.
This is, hands down, the most confusing manga I have ever read. Well, OK, maybe not quite as confusing as Angel Sanctuary and it’s multi-personality no glossary messiness, but close.
Here are some notes that I took while reading.
Another River is not a man
There’s a desperately needed, somewhat helpful cast of characters, but it’s not enough. Man, for instance, is included there under the name No Man. If you have someone staring at a big scary thing, saying “Man,” is your first thought that this is someone’s name? The name of a baby at that? Because it wasn’t mine.
Which brings us to the other big problem. Most of this volume takes place in the past, which means that everyone looks different. They’re also often addressed by their relative nicknames like sis, my older cousin, my nephew. Which would maybe be OK, but the relative in question is often dead in the present. And then there’s the character who is addressed by more than one gender pronoun. The character glossary has this amusing sentence: He has no gender. Um, yeah.
Did I mention that there seem to be two completely different Days of Destruction?
So why struggle through it? The art is lovely and the story is quite interesting. There’s a lot of cool plot going on under all the bizarre name problems, with interesting interpersonal politics and ideas about destiny (can it be changed?) and what honor means and the power of war.
I hesitate to explain the major plot points, because the twists are quite fun, but I think I can add that there is a nice backstory of the chief Fair Cave retelling the story of the clan’s destruction to Jack. The story, such as it is, that happens during the modern day is primarily about the soldier Cherry, a young officer who is wounded in battle. He makes an interesting contrast to the young Hello nee Nuts Peck, who was rescued in a similar way in the previous volume.
I’ll probably succumb and get the next volume, despite the massive translation/confusion problems. I wish they would do something like bold or capitalize the first letter of the names. It’s so puzzling and detracts from an otherwise very fun comic.